Weekend Afterthoughts On Nonito Donaire, Kelly Pavlik, Kell Brook, Carson Jones And Others

Q: What does Javier Fortuna have in common with Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer? A: Garbo and Shearer were nominated for best actress Academy Awards twice each because of their work in four separate movies in 1930, and Javier Fortuna now has a pair of Knockout of the Year candidates in 2012, meaning he’s competing against himself for the honor. Fortuna might one day run into a bigger puncher than he is, and if so he’s pretty punchable himself and we might find out whether he can take as good as he gives, but right now his power is tearing through the 126-130 pound vicinity in a way that is very, very real. Cristobal Cruz doesn’t go down so easily. But he did for Fortuna Friday.

Between Mark Ortega (twice), Scott Kraus and Patrick Connor, the TQBR team was in full effect this weekend while I was up in New York City watching — no kidding — “sensual trapeze” acts. But I have some thoughts of my own on the fights they covered, and there were some other fights over the weekend yet uncommented upon in this space. Also, we have more video now, too. There will be three more of them in this very post.

  • Nonito Donaire’s performance. After three fights in a row where Donaire has encountered difficulty contending with boxers who force him to be on the attack, the book on Donaire is pretty cemented and he has done very little to grow so as to counteract it. I guess he showed off a weird feint/super-jab thing that made Jeffrey Mathebula look bad for a round or two, but other than that he just doesn’t seem to know how to set up anything. Once more that counter left hook as money in a 4th round knockdown, but if Donaire isn’t given a lot of opportunities to counter, he’s usually floundering. Plus, I think his power isn’t as good above bantamweight; he has it, but it doesn’t seem to do the same kind of oh-shit damage at 122. You can say this is about the opponent and the respective boxing qualities of who Donaire is facing lately, but don’t tell me Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr., Mathebula and Omar Narvaez are just that much savvier boxers and have such greater chins than Fernando Montiel, whom Donaire demolished in two rounds. Mathebula had a case for actually winning, although I scored it 115-112 for Donaire and the ringside judges had it a wipeout for some reason. Each fight where Donaire struggles with the same problems, each fight against a man above 118 pounds and each fight where his opponent is a little better than his last is that much closer to Donaire losing. It doesn’t have to be that way. But for whatever reason, the Donaire we’ve had is the Donaire it looks like we’re always going to have, either because he’s fully formed and can’t learn any new tricks or because his trainer, last year’s Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia, isn’t what he’s cracked up to be.
  • Next for Donaire. He’s saying Toshiaki Nishioka or Abner Mares or Guillermo Rigondeaux, right now, but bet you it’s Jorge Arce. Nishioka says he’ll go fight Mares if the Donaire fight doesn’t happen, which sounds to me like an attempt to put pressure on Donaire to sign already. Donaire is also talking about moving up to 126 after his next fight. I don’t think he should’ve left bantam, and I don’t see what the rush is to leave junior featherweight — like Connor was saying in his write-up, it’s frustrating that Donaire keeps leaving divisions with challenges unanswered. For a while, I believed Donaire when he said ge was frustrated with Gary Shaw and then Top Rank as his promoters because he wasn’t getting the challenges he wanted, but this has now been going on for so many years the buck has to stop with Donaire. If he doesn’t fight Nishioka, Mares or Rigondeaux next, fans need to give this guy a Bronx cheer.
  • Kelly Pavlik’s performance. No, Pavlik isn’t ready for the top 168-pounders, but it’s not clear whether his win over Will Rosinsky proved that any differently than anything we knew already. Pavlik isn’t the same puncher he was at middleweight, and that Rosinsky didn’t have a single mark on his face after 10 rounds was part of the evidence of it. Oh, he can still punch, like that 2nd round knockdown showed, but he’s like Donaire in that he doesn’t punch as well in one division as another. It might also be a question of makeup. This isn’t the all-out offensive Pavlik of old, the one under the tutelage of Garcia, which is both good and bad; Pavlik has gotten better defensively, and has learned a little bit more countering, which speaks to some good things about Garcia. But if he isn’t going all-out on offense, he’s trading getting hit less for looking less like a power-punching beast. Ideally, there exists some merged version of old Pavlik and new Pavlik inside him somewhere, but he is definitely better than the guy who struggled against Alfonso Lopez and is more on the right track than not at this point. Score Garcia’s night one win, one loss, unofficially.
  • Mathebula and Rosinsky. Both comported themselves well enough to earn another trip to the big leagues. Mathebula is always good enough to have close fights with anyone, it seems, no matter what the judges said in this fight; the series of split decisions and one draw against Celestino Caballero, Takalani Ndlovu and Malcolm Klassen prove it, beyond what happened Saturday. He’s also got a problem with giving away his height and making himself vulnerable on defense, which is problematic because he needs to throw a lot of punches to be effective and that opens him up for return fire when his defense is otherwise sound, and he doesn’t punch hard enough to knock out top-flight guys. Rosinsky also lacks power, and he also probably needed to punch more to beat Pavlik on the scorecards, but he was competitive in most every round and I do see him as someone who could cop a win over a favorite one of these days if he improves just a smidge, either with his punch volume or, say, defense or power. Also, his fiancee was indeed super-annoying, shouting things persistently during the fight. I don’t know why anyone thinks that’s a good look, either for the boxer or the woman shouting; if she does it again, it’s going to make Rosinksy someone people don’t want to watch, so grating was the yelling. Overall, despite coming up short, both did their jobs: They came in, they gave the favorite some stiff competition and they provided entertainment.
  • Kell Brook vs. Carson Jones. As fun as the HBO card was action-wise, Brook-Jones was a welterweight war, possibly a Fight of the Year contender and featuring at least one round — the 10th — that could contend for the Round of the Year. Brook got the decision win (I had it a draw, like one of the judges), but both men elevated themselves. As a big Jones fan, it was great to discover that he could contend on this level, against a skilled, fast “cutie,” and that he was more than simply a TV-made brawler. Brook also had to show some fans that he’s got some serious fortitude to go with those skills and quickness; he got busted up badly in the 8th and 9th rounds, and in the 10th, 11th and 12th he had fierce rallies in stanzas where he was also taking a pounding. Check out the whole fight on YouTube when you get a chance, if you haven’t already.
  • The Rest. After another so-so opponent this weekend, heayweight Tyson Fury wants a piece of Tomasz Adamek, or so he says. Sounds like a great fight for NBC’s Dec. 22 date… Meanwhile, heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko again stopped Tony Thompson in a fight that was as defensible as any makeable fight Klitschko could’ve taken; he’s throwing out names like Seth Mitchell as potential opponents, but the names he mentioned are all probably a year away at best at being as ready as they’ll ever get, and that’s if they even want to mess with getting knocked out… Middleweight Grzegorz Proksa got revenge on Kerry Hope with a big knockout over the weekend. Video of the final round below… Lightweight Gavin Rees made Derry Matthews do a full somersault with his own impressive knockout over the weekend. Check it out below, too.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.